Gun-related Deaths in the USA

Pursuant to my recent post, “Guns and God,” here are a few back of the envelope calculations to put the issue in perspective.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The US had approximately 40,000 gun-related deaths in 2017. That figure has been relatively consistent since 1968, the first year the CDC has online data.

Let’s put that in context. The USA lost 58,000 troops in the Vietnam War, most in the ten-year period between 1963 and 1972. In that same ten-year span, nearly 400,000 Americans died from gun-related deaths in the USA. That’s right, about 8 times as many Americans died from gun violence in the United States during that ten-year period as did American soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Or consider that the total USA combat death in ALL the wars the US has ever been in total about 667,000. That figure rises to about 1,500,000 if you include non-combat death. Thus, in the fifty-year period from 1968 to 2018 more Americans died in the USA from gun violence than died in all the was American has ever fought! Almost 2 million Americans have died from gun-related violence in the last 50 years.

In that same time guns haven’t saved anyone in the US from political tyrants. Why is that? Because guns don’t protect US citizens from the might of the US military or, perhaps even more importantly, from the huge data sets that enhance the sophisticated techniques of psychological manipulation/propaganda used by authoritarians to control their citizens.

There is of course much more to say about all this. But you are much, much more likely to die from either suicide or murder in the USA than in other developed countries. In fact, the rate of gun-related deaths in the USA is more than 100 times higher than in some countries:

(Gun-related deaths per 100,000 population for selected countries)

  • Singapore 0.025 (that’s 2.5  per 10 million)
  • Japan 0.06
  • Iceland 0.07
  • South Korea 0.08
  • United Kingdom 0.23
  • Kuwait 0.36
  • Cuba 0.5
  • Spain 0.62
  • Germany 0.99
  • Canada 2.0
  • Mexico 7.64
  • United States 12.21
  • Colombia 20.38

Here’s another great way to look at this from an article in the New York Times:

Being killed with a gun here: Is about as likely as
dying of ________ in the U.S.
Deaths per mil.
El Salvador Heart attack 446.3
Mexico Pancreatic cancer 121.7
United States Car accident* 31.2
Chile Motorcycle accident 14.3
Israel Building fire 7.5
Canada Alcohol poisoning 5.6
Ireland Drowning in a lake, river or ocean 4.8
Netherlands Accidental gas poisoning 2.3
Germany Contact with a thrown or falling object 2.1
France Hypothermia 2.0
Austria Drowning in a swimming pool 1.9
Australia Falling from a building or structure 1.7
China Plane crash 1.6
Spain Exposure to excessive natural heat 1.6
New Zealand Falling from a ladder 1.5
Poland Bicycle-car crash 1.1
England Contact with agricultural machinery 0.9
Norway Accidental hanging or strangulation 0.9
Iceland Electrocution 0.6
Scotland Cataclysmic storms 0.5
South Korea Being crushed or pinched between objects 0.4
Japan Lightning strike 0.1

Note: Rates are averages of data available from 2007 to 2012; car accidents include car occupants only; not van, truck, motorcycle, or bus accidents.  Source: Centers for Disease Control and PreventionSmall Arms Survey (Note also that this chart is for gun-related murders and doesn’t include gun-related suicides.)

Finally, if you want to see more statistics displayed with great graphics see the following link from the Giffords Law Center has done a great job.

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7 thoughts on “Gun-related Deaths in the USA

  1. High time that the people in USA were made aware of these stark facts and “ Rise like Lions after slumber
    In unvanquishable number” and overrule the Greedy evil Gun Club.
    Fritz Kodagoda

  2. I suggest that the debate over gun control is hampered by the fact that guns are potent sexual symbols to men. For complicated reasons arising from the millions of years that humans spent as hunter-gatherers, the gun now represents to many men a symbol of absolute sexual power. Thus, proposing to take a man’s guns away is tantamount, in his eyes, to emasculation. That explains why they’re so adamant about rejecting any measure, no matter how tentative or reasonable. I doubt that we’ll ever accomplish anything against the gun lobby until American civilization itself collapses. In the meantime, I rely on humiliation by pointing out that owning a gun is really just a way to prop up a weak sense of masculinity. To put it pointedly, “Gun guys got no balls.” 😁

  3. Thanks John! I really appreciate getting these statistics. But the crazy thing is, most of the right wing could look at this data and remain unmoved in any way. In the next breath they would argue that the problem is the loss of religiosity or video games or even that we don’t have enough good people who are armed. Maybe these fools will die and be replaced by a generation more sensible. But we will see no movement from the conservatives on this. At best, if they become a political minority, then they will just let up after they lose a future political battle.

  4. “In the next breath they would argue that the problem is the loss of religiosity”

    And religiosity can be gasoline added to the fire. Jesus preached,

    **…I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household**

    Doesn’t sound like a way to promote peace in the ‘hood.

  5. Your statement: “But you are much, much more likely to die from either suicide or murder in the USA than in other developed countries” is incorrect. The total suicide rate (from all methods) in the US is actually below that of Japan, France, Switzerland and Finland and is only slightly above that of Sweden. Since the total suicide rate here in the US is three times higher than the total homicide rate, the likelihood of dying from “either suicide or murder” is dominated by the suicide rate. It is true that the rate of suicides using guns is higher here in the US than the other developed countries. However, that statistic should be presented along with the total suicide rate in order to fairly assess the role that guns play in causation.

  6. that is not stated in the essay. However the suicide rate in Japan is quite high; health issues being the most common reason.

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